Participants during the Rhino Charge Offroad Competition inspection in Torosei, Kajiado Prefecture, on May 31, 2024.

Participants during the Rhino Charge Offroad Competition inspection in Torosei, Kajiado Prefecture, on May 31, 2024. The annual event is scheduled for June 1, 2024

| Lucas Barasa | Nation Media Group

Vroom! Vroom! Adrenaline, thrills and stunning views as Rhino Charge kicks off in Kajiado

What you need to know:

  • There are six new entrants to the race, which motorsport enthusiasts hope will live up to its reputation as one of the world's toughest off-road competitions.

A total of 54 Rhino Charge cars will undergo scrutineering from Friday morning until dusk, ahead of Saturday's competition at Torosei in Kajiado District.

Scrutineering is the process of inspecting rally vehicles to ensure that they comply with the rules of the event.

There are six new entrants to the race, which motorsport enthusiasts hope will live up to its reputation as one of the world's toughest off-road competitions.

On Thursday, the competing vehicles registered to take part in Kenya's unique off-road competition that raises funds for environmental conservation.

Kajiado County is the pacesetter for Rhino Charge, having hosted the first ever event in 1989.

In the event's 35-year history, the county has hosted the competition, including Suswa (1989), Magadi (1990), L'rogoswa (2004), Londuroj (2010), Nyokie (2013), Mosiro (2022) and this year's in Torosei.

This year's venue lies at the heart of lakes Magadi-Natron landscape in the critical wildlife migratory corridor in the vast and picturesque Kajiado County.

At the same time, about 4102 people had been registered on an online ticketing portal by the end of Friday, May 24, 2024 deadline. It’s one of the few to run with a national conservation purpose.

Compared to the 3750 people who attended last year's Charge in Nkoteyia, the numbers show a steady increase in the event's popularity.

Every year, the Rhino Charge Organising Committee receives requests from various communities

interested in hosting the world-renowned 4x4 off-road competition.

Factors considered in selecting a host conservancy include the willingness of the host community,

terrain diversity, low human settlement density and appropriate landscape. This year, the Torosei

community, which lives in Kenya's southern landscape bordering Tanzania, was selected for ticking

most boxes on the set criteria.

Although Torosei has a huge potential as a wildlife tourist destination, little is known about it outside the country. Therefore, the hosting of the Rhino Charge not only

boosts the area's visibility to investors and tourists, but also inspires the community to appreciate and leverage the value of their heritage.

During the preparations for the Rhino Charge, the event organisers hired local workers to assist in setting up the venue infrastructure, hence providing income-generating activities.

This gave the community a boost, as jobs and income-generating activities are scarce in remote areas.

In addition, Torosei will benefit from the Land Access Fees to implement a community project of

their choice, such as the construction of school classrooms or the sinking of boreholes.

Since its inception in 1989, the Rhino Charge has donated over Sh70.7 million to the various host communities.

This year’s Rhino Charge Offroad Competition seeks to explore the county’s tourism potential, in addition to its role in conserving the environment.

Organisers of the competition said they were keen on enabling participants to discover the "hidden gems" in the vast border county.

“As the 35th edition of the renowned Rhino Charge offroad competition gears up to raise vital funds for conservation, participants and spectators look forward to exploring the unique and captivating attractions of Kajiado County. This year’s event, set against the breathtaking backdrop of Kajiado’s diverse landscapes promises not only thrilling 4x4 challenges but also an opportunity to discover the county’s hidden gems,” the organisers said in a statement.

Amboseli National Park, for instance, is renowned for its stunning views of Mt Kilimanjaro and is a premier destination for wildlife enthusiasts, featuring large herds of elephants, lions, cheetahs, and various bird species. Observation Hill offers panoramic views of the park and Kilimanjaro’s peak.

The park is also home to the world’s longest-studied elephants since 1973 by the Amboseli Trust for Elephants.

Kajiado County, which borders Nairobi City, also hosts Magadi Soda Lake. This saline, alkaline lake is crucial for flamingos and other waterbirds, with the shimmering pink hue of flamingos against the rugged landscape being a spectacular sight.

Then there is the Olorgesailie Prehistoric Site, also known as the “factory of stone tools,” which offers a fascinating glimpse into early human history and is ideal for archaeology enthusiasts.

Ngong Hills, popular for hiking and picnics, offers panoramic views and rich cultural history, being the final resting place of Denys Finch Hatton, famously portrayed in “Out of Africa.”

The source of the Enkare Nairobi River is in Kajiado, offering a serene and reflective experience for visitors.

The organisers said participants could engage with the Maasai community to learn about their traditional lifestyle, customs, and crafts, providing a deep and authentic cultural experience.

The county houses several community-run wildlife ranches, including the renowned Selenkei Conservancy and the lesser-known Shompole Conservancy.

Known for its lush green vegetation and extensive cave systems, the Chyulu Hills offer excellent opportunities for hiking and exploring, providing a tranquil escape with spectacular vistas.

A residential haven for Nairobi’s workforce, Kajiado North blends urban convenience with rural charm, making it an ideal retreat from the city.

“The 35th Rhino Charge not only promises an adrenaline-pumping offroad competition but also invites you to delve into the wonders of Kajiado County. Whether you are an avid adventurer, a wildlife enthusiast, or someone seeking to connect with the rich cultural heritage of Kenya, Kajiado has something special to offer.. Explore, experience, and enjoy the unparalleled beauty of Kajiado County while supporting a noble cause,” the organisers said.

The funds support projects by the Rhino Ark Kenya Charitable Trust in partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Forest Service.

Conservationists hope to surpass the Sh173 million raised last year during this year’s Rhino Charge slated for the weekend for environmental protection.

Nkoteyia Community Conservancy in the Ewaso Nyiro landscape in Samburu County hosted the 34th edition of the event at which Sh173 million was raised towards the completion of the 61km-long section of the Mt Kenya Electric Fence in Nyeri County, the construction of the Kakamega Forest electric fence, the maintenance of the 758 kilometres of Aberdare electric fence Mt Kenya, Eburu and Kakamega, the expansion of community patrol teams to include South Western Mau.

Since its conception in 1989, the Rhino Charge has raised Sh 2.1 billion towards the conservation of Mt Kenya, the Aberdares, South Western Mau and Mount Eburu in the Mau Forests Complex and Kakamega Forest.

Whilst the first Rhino Charge raised only Sh250,000, the amount has increased tremendously over the years to cross the Sh180 million mark in 2018, thanks to supporters locally and internationally.

Projects funded thanks to the Rhino Charge funds include the construction of the world's longest game-proof fences, such as the 450km Mount Kenya Electric Fence - 300km long.

Don White, the event’s Clerk of Course, has since announced the location of where the route notes for the race.

The Rhino Charge entrants visit 13 checkpoints scattered over approximately 100km square of rough terrain within 10 hours.

Rhino Ark Executive Director Christian Lambrechts Christian said the organisation has undertaken activities in Mt Kenya, Mau Eburu, Aberdares, South Western Mau and Kakamega Forest.

The event is sponsored by Total Energies, Safaricom, AutoXpress, Tarpo, White Cap, Castor Vali, Rotor Jet Aviation, Z Boskovic Air Charters, Sandstorm, Mantech Inflight Systems, Aquamist, The Iceman, Tropical Heat, Papyrus, Northscape, Rivercross Tracking Ltd, Instarect, Chloride Exide and Bins.